|Laundry day at Darlington House|
I am fortunate to write that I am not responsible for most of the cleaning and laundering that takes place at Darlington House and in our city apartment. There are others in our employ who ably take on such responsibilities for us. However, Reggie is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves, donning a bib apron, and tackling such mundane tasks as scrubbing the surface of a stove or doing a load or two of laundry. That is because there are times when I am not entirely satisfied with the jobs done by those who do them for us. As the saying goes, "If you want it done right, [there are occasionally times when] you have to do it yourself."
Herewith, Dear Reader, are the top five commercially available household products that I use when engaging in such tasks:
1. Caldrea® Mandarin Vetiver Dish Soap Liquid
There are any number of attractively packaged and pleasantly scented dishwashing liquid soaps available today, unlike when I was a lad, when all of them came in uniformly ugly plastic bottles and had cheerily artificial smells. One certainly no longer must decant one's dishwashing liquid into a discrete and "tasteful" bottle the way Martha Stewart taught us to do twenty or more years ago.
My favorite dishwashing soap is Caldrea®'s Mandarin Vetiver Dish Soap Liquid. Not only is it highly effective in cleaning dishes and utensils, but its scent is marvelous. It is a delicious combination of blood orange, grapefruit, and wood-bark essences. Heaven!
2. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® Lemon Verbena Countertop Spray
Where would we be today without Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® household products? Handsomely packaged and readily available, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® aromatherapeutic household cleaners are staples in our house and apartment. I particularly like the company's light and citrusy lemon verbena scented countertop spray.
According to the products' labels, "Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day® provides hard-working, naturally occurring ingredients and essential oils that are tough on dirt and grime, yet gentle on your home & the earth." They are also biodegradable and cruelty-free. What's not to like about that? Also, who doesn't love the fact that they are named after the reassuringly homey Mrs. Meyer, an actual Iowa homemaker and mother of nine whose daughter founded the company and named it after her? Do check out the company's website, where there are several quite charming videos, including one of an interview with the one and only Mrs. Meyer. Who knew?
3. Bar Keepers Friend® Cleanser & Polish
I tell you, Dear Reader, this is a miracle product. Bar Keepers Friend® (ungrammatical as it may be) is a gentle scouring powder known as "The Can-Do Cleanser." It has been made since 1882. According to its old-fashioned label, it can be used to clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, porcelain, ceramic cooktops, copper, tile, and brass.
I use it to scour our stainless steel sinks and stove tops, and when I do, the gleaming results verge on astonishing! I have found nothing better to remove the residual, sticky, stubbornly baked-on goo from the surface of our stainless steel stoves. Barkeepers Friend® is both strong enough and gentle enough at the same time for me to use it to polish our copper cookware, where it does an admirable job of brightening up the metal's surfaces in a jiffy. In my house, Barkeepers Friend® truly lives up to its motto of "Once Tried, Always Used."
4. 'All'® Free Clear Laundry Detergent
I don't know about you, but I cannot stand perfumed laundry detergents, and I find the scent and residue of fabric softeners revolting.
We use 'all'® free clear liquid laundry detergent to wash our laundry, both at Darlington and in the City, because it is free of perfumes and clear of dyes, and it is biodegradable and free of phosphates, too. My sister Camilla introduced me to 'all'® free clear several years ago, and we've used nothing else ever since. Thank you, dear Sister.
This is another miracle product. Oxi-Clean® is a versatile, oxygen-based stain fighter that's chlorine-free and color-safe. I use it to clean and whiten yellowed or stained white clothing and linens, instead of relying on harsh chlorine bleach.
I have found nothing better to restore and revive tired linens and return them to their original whiteness than Oxi-Clean®. Here's how I do it: I fill the washing machine with water, pour in three to five heaping scoops of Oxi-Clean® powder (depending on the size of the load and how soiled it is) and also a regular dose of 'all'® free clear laundry detergent. I let the water agitate so the Oxi-Clean® and detergent are completely dissolved and dispersed, add the sorted laundry, and let it all soak overnight, and sometimes longer, up to 24 hours. I then run the machine for a long cycle, and double (and sometimes triple) rinse it when completed. The clothes come out stain-free and as white as possible. Oh, and of course I only use the scent- and dye-free variety. And yes, I really do decant the powder from the ugly box it comes in, and I use my own metal scoop instead of the flimsy plastic one provided.
Lastly, if you really want to get your whites "whiter than white," I suggest that you hang them to dry in the sun, as we sometimes do at Darlington, as shown in the photograph at the beginning of this post.
Tell me, Dear Reader, are there commercially available household products that you use and that you would recommend?
Please note: Reggie has received nothing in return for these recommendations, nor does he expect to. He is sharing them with his readers solely for their pleasure and enjoyment, which is why he writes this blog in the first place.
Photographs by Boy Fenwick